Tonight was my 2nd open mic – again, I did poetry. I’m nowhere remotely near playing music at such an event, and I have lots of poetry. BUT, there are always musical observations. Always.

For example: I got to hear two brands I’d been curious about up close. Mind, I was curious about their ukuleles and heard their guitars, BUT, it still gives an idea of the quality of the instrument.

1. Luna – someone played the guitar with the dragonfly rosette. My only problem with Luna as a rule is so many of their instruments are just so…femme. Lots of pinks and purples. BUT, that said, I’ve heard good things about the sound of them, and I got to hear that up close today. Very nice sounding instrument.

2. Alulu – I have been checking out this pretty brand on ebay, and they have some good reviews, so seeing an Alulu guitar appear today was cool (I suspect curly maple?). But, now I don’t know what to think of the ukuleles. I heard a lot of buzz on the E string, but was that the guitar or the player? I have no idea. Plus, he said that it was ‘supposed to’ be acoustic-electric, but that it didn’t work.  Hmm…that gives me a sketchy first impression. Acoustically it sounded good enough, but the sound didn’t really excite me much.

Anyway! I got home to mail, and it was nothing but music stuff:

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Rubin Acoustic-Electric Soprano Uke, Hal Leonard Blues Ukulele, and…slap bracelets (Yes, this is guitar related. I will explain…)

The Rubin uke came early! I was very excited. And, it’s pretty. I had anticipated some thin laminate on the side of the neck. It was being sold for $40 due to cosmetic issues, but with the assurance they did not affect playability. There are a few tiny spots where you can see slightly uneven laminate, but it’s only noticeable if you’re looking for it.  So, how does it sound? ….eeeehhh.

Okay, having said that “eeehhh” let me qualify.

A) as of this moment I can’t get it to stay in tune for more than a second. I suspect this is the fault of the strings being either unstretched, quite old (who knows how long this uke sat before I bought it) or very possibly not actually aquila strings – I have heard rumors about fake aquilas coming out of China, so I don’t know whether or not these are a knockoff.  So, I’ll give them a bit of time to stretch, and see how it goes from there.

Out of box though? It’s plinky and thin-sounding compared to my Kala KA-15S, which sounds much clearer and more full-bodied. I spent $40 on the rubin, which for an uke with electronics is unfathomable, but I suspect if I paid the full price, which I think is around $60-80 somewhere, I would be very disappointed right now. Then again, I may have a very different opinion once the strings settle. We’ll see. Really, for what I paid for it, if it stays in tune and the electronics work, that’s honestly all one can reasonably expect.

The Rubin has active electronics, which means that it needs a 9V battery to work when plugged into an amp.  TG I had one in the house to test. Note to self: buy a spare next time I’m at the store.

Aesthetically, it’s a nice little uke. Sonically…I’ll have to revisit that once it’s been a bit lived in. At the moment I find it lacking, but this is within a few minutes out of the box when it won’t stay in tune yet. Time will tell. Again, I paid $40, so I was not going into the purchase expecting a sonic miracle.  Good reviews had me expecting something a bit less bland, though.  Of course, I can’t fairly say that until I can get it to stay in tune, to be fair.

Moving on: you’ll notice I categorized that blast from the past (slap bracelets!) as music-related.  See, these things were popular when I was a kid. I remember my dad using mine when he broke his arm to scratch inside of his cast.  Well, when I was doing my mass clean-out, I found two in the mess, and realized they served a certain purpose surprisingly well:

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They are weirdly perfect for thick/long cables.  They don’t work so well for the smaller ones, because they don’t wrap small enough, but for my rocksmith cable and my 20 footer, they’re perfect, so when I realized I had an extra thick cable, I decided to look on ebay to get another blast from the past to keep it organized with.

In any case, tomorrow, the Jersey Shore Jazz & Blues festival hits Asbury Park (aka: Asbury Park Blues and Brews Festival), so I need to get my butt in bed.

Until Next Time, further experimentation with the Rubin Uke is pending, and I have a lot to think about.

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